If you look at the scorelines of the last couple of South Africa wins, you figure they’ve had it easy. But that’s not the case. For large parts of this game the Pumas controlled the ball (49% possession and 54% territory) and built some great momentum, to then throw 7 points away with a heinous mistake; Argentina made 19 errors to South Africa’s 9.
The first of these mistakes happened in the 7th minute when Contepomi threw an overambitious pass for Du Preez to snaffle and run 70 metres to score their first try. This was totally against the run of play at the time. But as the game went on a familiar pattern built up; the Pumas would do all the graft, for the Boks to mercilessly pick them off on the bounce. Interestingly, this was definitely a pre-meditated game plan.
A great example of this being the rolling maul. During the week, Jake White had complimented the Argentinian rolling maul, stating it was the best in the game. The Argies should have smelled something awry here (eau de Jake ‘n Eddie) because indeed the boks had a plan.
When the Pumas got their maul on the move (which they did excellently) the South Africans would simply disengage and stand back, leaving the argies standing as a pre-formed maul, which would then be pinged as ‘truck and trailer’ (accidently offside) when it next encountered a jaapie. They got pinged twice quickly, looking bewildered like someone had changed the rules on them, before ditching probably their most potent weapon.
The Boks have become ruthless at this game plan, and with Montgomery kicking 7 from 8, they are the tournaments best try scoring machine. Berger and Du Preez are also on top form, the best players in their respective positions. It’ll be interesting to see if the Pommy game stranglers give them nearly so much ammunition to shoot back in the final.
For South Africa:
Tries: Du Preez, Habana 2, Roussouw
Cons: Montgomery 4
Pens: Montgomery 3
Try: Manuel Contempomi
Con: Felipe Contempomi
Pens: Felipe Contempomi 2
South Africa: 15 Percy Montgomery, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 François Steyn, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Butch James, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Danie Rossouw, 7 Juan Smith, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 CJ van der Linde, 2 John Smit (captain), 1 Os du Randt.
Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis/Gary Botha, 17 Jannie du Plessis, 18 Johann Muller, 19 Bob Skinstad, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 André Pretorius, 22 Wynand Olivier.
Argentina: 15 Ignacio Corleto, 14 Lucas Borges, 13 Manuel Contepomi, 12 Felipe Contepomi, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Juan Martín Hernández, 9 Agustín Pichot (captain), 8 Gonzalo Longo, 7 Juan Martín Fernandez Lobbe, 6 Lucas Ostiglia, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Carlos Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, 3 Juan Martín Scelzo, 2 Mario Ledesma, 1 Rodrigo Roncero.
Replacements: 16 Alberto Vernet Basualdo, 17 Omar Hasan, 18 Rimas Álvarez Kairelis, 19 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 20 Nicolás Fernandez Miranda, 21 Federico Todeschini, 22 Gonzalo Tiesi.
Referee: Steve Walsh (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Alain Lewis (Ireland), Chris White (England)
Television match official: Tony Spreadbury (England).